NCAA Ladies folks’s Bracket: High matchups, Final Four picks, more

After a wild year and an exhilarating open to March, the NCAA Ladies folks’s Match is at closing right here. And we accept as true with some questions:

Can South Carolina protect its title? Will Caitlin Clark salvage her March Madness second and lead Iowa to the Final Four? Can UConn rally now that Azzi Fudd is aid in the lineup? Who will possible be this year’s Cinderella crew? 

The action begins Wednesday with two First Four video games. Then, the corpulent insanity begins with 16 video games on Friday and 16 more the next day.

Here is what you might perchance well know:

[2023 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament bracket revealed

High storylines

Will South Carolina protect its title?

South Carolina’s pursuit for a ideal season and turning into ethical the fourth crew in history to repeat as nationwide champions is terribly unparalleled interior take.

The Gamecocks (32-0) are the No. 1 overall seed and the most effective crew in the country. They moreover, most importantly, accept as true with the most effective participant in the country in Aliyah Boston, who is anticipated to be the principle take in the WNBA Draft. They haven’t misplaced a sport since being upset by Kentucky in closing year’s SEC Match championship sport, and so that they’re the most imposing defensive crew in the country. Led by Boston – the reigning National Participant of the Year – the Gamecocks are keeping opponents to 51.1 parts per sport on 31.4% taking pictures, while averaging more than 9 blocks per sport. 

Damage of day Staley’s crew is lengthy, deep and somehow even better than they had been closing year on every ends of the bottom, which is upsetting for any crew they’ll face over the next couple of weeks.

“The ultimate incompatibility [between this year’s team and last year’s team] is they’re embracing [having a target on their back] in a a range of and more poised and restful methodology,” Staley stated on ESPN’s Favor Yelp. 

It’s priceless to accept as true with so many returning stars from the 2022 championship crew, too. As successfully as to Boston, the Gamecocks accept as true with Brea Beal, Zia Cooke and Victaria Saxton, to boot to Raven Johnson. Off the bench they’ve Kamilla Cardoso, Bree Hall and Laeticia Amihere.

“We know what it takes to take a nationwide championship and be in conclude video games,” Boston stated on the Favor Yelp. “We’ve performed a immense job citing the underclassmen, and so that they’re ready to rock and roll.”

How far can Caitlin Clark engage Iowa?

Final year, Iowa was once upset by NCAA Match Cinderella Creighton, prohibiting Caitlin Clark from making a Final Four bustle.

As a junior, the National Participant of the Year semifinalist has set aside on a show nearly about every sport. From her jaw-dropping logo 3-guidelines to her off-stability buzzer-beaters to being so confident that she on the overall is aware of her shot is “money” once it leaves her fingers, basketball fans should gaze her play deep into the tournament this time.

So, how far can Clark, who is averaging 27 parts per sport and leads the country with 8.3 assists per sport, engage the Hawkeyes? Iowa won the Extensive Ten Match title, but hasn’t made it to a Final Four since 1993.

Caitlin Clark hits a deep 3-pointer

Iowa’s Caitlin Clark hits a deep 3-level shot in a take over Ohio Negate.

The Hawkeyes earned a No. 2 seed in the Seattle 4 location, which is arguably one in every of the toughest parts of the bracket. Iowa faces Southeastern Louisiana in its first sport, and if the Hawkeyes engage winning, they’d face Duke in the Sweet 16 and either Texas or Stanford in the Elite Eight.

There was once a option of discussion as as to whether or now not Stanford or Iowa would salvage the No. 1 seed – the desire committee awarded it to the Cardinal. Will being a No. 2 seed plot Clark angry and give her far more of an edge? That’s one thing about a groups are about to hunt down out.

Coach with most stress

If there was once an EGOT award in sports activities, Damage of day Staley would take it. She was once a two-time National Participant of the Year at Virginia and a six-time WNBA All-Famous particular person. She is moreover a four-time Olympic gold medalist (three as a participant, one as Workers USA’s head coach), and at South Carolina, she’s won two nationwide championships (2017, 2022) and is on the level of winning her third (and second in a row).

All the plan by the Favor Yelp, Staley joked about her grey hairs while talking about the stress of the second and attempting to facts her crew to one more title. Sitting next to her was once Boston, who laughed and confidently told her coach, “talk it into existence.”

Staley coaches a tight-knit crew corpulent of veterans who know precisely what this tournament is all about. It’s theirs to lose.

Three gamers to gaze (now not named Aliyah Boston or Caitlin Clark)

Maddy Siegrist, Villanova

Whereas a wild wager might perchance well lift that Clark is the nation’s main scorer, she’s now not. That title goes to Siegrist, a senior forward at Villanova. Siegrist has averaged 28.9 parts per sport this season and once exploded for 50 on 20-of-26 taking pictures from the self-discipline in a 99-65 take over Seton Hall in February. She is moreover the Extensive East’s all-time main scorer with 1,550 profession parts.

Villanova’s Maddy Siegrist drains a 3-level jumper

Villanova’s Maddy Siegrist drains a 3-level jumper in the second quarter of the Extensive East championship.

Angel Reese, LSU

The superstar sophomore forward made history this season when she passed listing Sylvia Fowles’ file with 20 consecutive double-doubles. Her journey didn’t conclude there although, as she in the atomize recorded 23 in a row and 27 in 28 video games. That tied one more Fowles file for many double-doubles in a season by an LSU participant. With the NCAA Match living to salvage underway, query Reese to ruin that file as the Tigers plot their methodology by their location as a No. 3 seed.

Elizabeth Kitley, Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech is one in every of the freshest groups heading into the NCAA Match, and one in every of the most unhealthy, incomes a No. 1 seed in the Seattle 3 location. The Hokies are led by Elizabeth Kitley, a two-time ACC Participant of the Year who is moreover a National Participant of the Year semifinalist. Kitley has averaged 18.6 parts, 10.5 rebounds and a pair of.3 blocks per sport while taking pictures 56% from the bottom. She has scored 20 or more parts in 17 video games and recorded 19 double-doubles this season.

Very most practical plan

Greenville 1 is the simplest plan … for South Carolina to plot a bustle and repeat as nationwide champs, that’s. It’s now not surely easy for anyone else standing in its methodology.

This location aspects ability rematches for the Gamecocks, as they played (and beat) No. 2 seed Maryland and No. 4 seed UCLA at some level of the long-established season. The reality that Staley can sport idea for groups she’s already considered and beat handily is now not appropriate facts for these opponents. 

“I esteem it,” Staley stated of South Carolina’s bracket. “There’s a familiarity. I don’t desire to position the cart before the horse, but in most cases even as you’re in a tournament environment esteem this, it’s a appropriate thing to accept as true with played a pair of groups we’ve played this year. [But we] won’t shortchange the scout, that’s for obvious.”

It appears to be like to be esteem the Gamecocks are in beautiful appropriate shape with a positive path to the Final Four.

Toughest plan

Any location with UConn in it is far automatically deemed the toughest. On this case, that’s Seattle 3 where the Huskies are the No. 2 seed. 

Geno Auriemma’s crew has long past by a really irregular year. After losing to South Carolina in closing year’s nationwide championship sport, the Huskies had Paige Bueckers and Azzi Fudd returning, so for positive they will possible be the crew to beat. Then every gamers acquired anguish – Bueckers tore her ACL and was once declared out for the season, while Fudd injured her knee and overlooked 14 video games. UConn’s depth was once additional depleted with more injuries and operated a bit of the year with an eight-participant rotation.

Add on the truth that Auriemma moreover overlooked video games as he mourned the death of his mother and felt “beneath the climate and bustle down.”

After a tricky stretch, UConn ended up winning the Extensive East long-established season and tournament titles. The Huskies moreover nearly about beat South Carolina in early February with seven wholesome gamers. 

Gamers esteem Lou Lopez Senechal, Aaliyah Edwards, Aubrey Griffin and Nika Muhl accept as true with stepped up, and now Fudd is aid, which without extend affords UConn a shot at advancing to its 15th consecutive Final Four.

Lou Lopez Senechal extends the Huskies’ lead

UConn’s Lou Lopez Senechal extends the Huskies’ lead with the aid of teammate Nika Muhl.

Cinderellas to gaze

Final year, No. 10 seed Creighton haunted all people when it knocked off Iowa in the second round and proceeded to beat Iowa Negate in the Sweet 16. The Bluejays’ bustle ended in the Elite Eight, but by that level, they had already made their price on the tournament.

Who also can impartial be a ability Cinderella crew this year? 

No. 9 seed South Dakota Negate executed its season 28-5 and won the Summit League. The Jackrabbits beat NCAA tourney-trek groups Mississippi Negate and Louisville and had single-digit losses to Creighton and UCLA. They’re moreover no stranger to thriving as a Cinderella, making it to the Sweet 16 in 2019. Then, Myah Selland was once a sophomore and scored 12.5 parts per sport. Now, in her sixth season, she’s averaging 15.7 parts and 6.2 rebounds per sport, including a 25-level effort in a take over Louisville (who is a No. 5 seed).

SDSU faces No. 8 seed USC in the principle round. The Trojans are 21-9 and went 11-7 in the Pac-12 this season. Interact that, and a date with Virginia Tech looms in the second round.

Laken Litman covers college football, college basketball and soccer for FOX Sports activities. She previously wrote for Sports activities Illustrated, USA At the moment time and The Indianapolis Famous particular person. She is the writer of “Solid Treasure a Lady,” published in spring 2022 to price the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Apply her on Twitter @LakenLitman.

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